Toys for Tots
Thank you to everyone who donated to Toys for Tots. We certainly have some generous patrons!! They have picked up all of the donations from our site for this year. If you would still like to donate a toy, please contact the Leavenworth County Sheriff’s Department about their annual Toy Drive.
Clarification for the Public
State Representative Pat Proctor’s recent Facebook page stated that Nancy Bauder was “formerly a member of the Library Board of Trustees.” For the sake of complete and accurate information about how the Library is governed, Mrs. Bauder served on the Library Board of Trustees two years ago because she was the Mayor of Leavenworth at that time. Mayors do not choose to serve on the Library Board nor are they appointed like the other seven community members who serve. State law mandates that Mayors serve by virtue of their office (ex officio) and their terms expire when they are no longer Mayor. Currently, Mayor Jermaine Wilson is a member of the Library Board.
His post also referred to “..the Library’s property tax increase.” The Library Board has never had the authority to increase property taxes. The City approved a 3.75 mill cap for the Library’s general fund mill rate 37 years ago and the Board has no power to increase that rate. For the last two years, the Library’s general fund mill rate has been reduced.
A “revenue neutral” budget in FY2024 would create a financial snowball effect, resulting in a loss of at least $206,903 next year. That amount equals 90% of the Library’s material budget, 72% of utilities, maintenance and other essential services, 24% of the entire payroll. In light of these facts, Library Board members acted responsibly by approving a 2024 budget that preserves the effectiveness of an institution that has served the community for 120 years.
–Library Director Matt Nojonen
REVENUE NEUTRAL EFFECT ON LIBRARY BUDGET
Library budgets have resulted in general fund mill rate reductions four times in the last ten years, including FY2023 and FY2024. At the same time, quality services have been maintained. Collections have grown. Unique digital content has been added. Technology is up-do-date. Barriers to access have been eliminated. Outreach to daycares and preschools has been established. New programs have attracted ever-growing numbers of patrons
Library budgets are the result of painstaking analysis of real data. Budgets, expenditures and balances for 63 line items have been tracked for 15 years to make sure funds are properly allocated. Detailed library service data is analyzed to discover trends in community needs. Direct input from hundreds of people has been gathered through strategic planning conducted in 2015, 2018 and 2022. This information plays a crucial role in identifying real needs and budgeting collections, services, staff, supplies and technology to meet them.
On 8/31, the Library Board of Trustees held a special meeting to review the Library’s FY2024 again and consider the feasibility of a revenue neutral budget. The Board voted 7-0 to re-affirm the original FY2024 Library budget submitted to the City of Leavenworth. Below are some of the facts that informed the decision.
REVENUE NEUTRAL RESULTS IN A LOSS OF $206,903
(17% of all Library tax revenue)
* $127,617 cut in City property tax funding
* $7,000 cut in motor vehicle tax funding
* $10,000 cut in State funding is triggered (KS Grant-in-aid formula)
* $62,286 cut in funding from the NEKLS regional library. NEKLS standards require a library to be eligible for the Kansas Grant-in-aid in order to receive a Development Grant
* A $206,903 cut equals 90% of the entire FY2024 materials budget
* A $206,903 cut equals 71% of the entire FY2024 services and supplies budget
* A $206,903 cut equals 24% of the entire FY2024 payroll
Leavenworth Public Library
Public Communication Without Misrepresentation
August 25, 2023
A recent Facebook post by State Representative Proctor is not accurate. The elected City Commission has always had authority over the Library budget. They have exerted this authority by passing Charter Ordinances that cap how much money the City collects for the Library. Charter Ordinances were passed in 1971, 1985 and 1986. The 1986 Ordinance set the cap at 3.75 mills and it has not changed since then.
The Library Board does not have the authority to “raise taxes” or “demand” a tax increase. The Board can only budget within the legal cap set by the elected City Commission. Abiding by the law isn’t “forcing” the City in any way.
Mr. Proctor praises the “tax hawks” on the City Commission. There is no grand theory of “revenue neutral” at work. It is simple math. The City’s sales tax revenue has skyrocketed and will replace property tax revenue they have decided not to collect. The Leavenworth Public Library does not have that luxury. It depends on City property taxes for 81% of its funding.
“Revenue neutral” is not a synonym for fiscal responsibility. The current Library Board and their predecessors have acted responsibly for 120 years. For the second year in a row, the Library Board has approved a budget that does not require the full 3.75 mills to be collected. This is the fourth time in the last 10 years they have made that choice. Budgeting for a public institution without any change to its basic mill rate in 37 years speaks for itself. Can another public agency in Leavenworth make that statement?
The difference between a “revenue neutral” Library budget in 2024 and the one passed by the Board is .42 mills, a total of $127,617. That breaks down to $.60 a month on a $245,000 home. The Library Board and staff appear to be providing an excellent return on the public’s investment. Compared to 2022, Library circulation is up 49%, the number of people in the Library has increased 88%, the number of borrowers is up 21%, computer use is up 26%, attendance at Library programs is up 69%, public use of Library meeting rooms is up 24%. Representative Proctor is among the people who have used Library meeting rooms regularly.
If the Representative’s goal is to make sure library boards are elected, it is important to note that almost all public library Boards in the US are appointed. This is to keep politics out. Elected officials all over the country are banning books, attacking intellectual freedom, outlawing the teaching of concepts they don’t “believe in.” Inviting that kind of negative influence into public libraries, places that were created to share information and stimulate thought, would be an enormous mistake.
The two-year old “revenue neutral” experiment should not be used to undermine 120 years of cooperation and communication between the City of Leavenworth and the Library Board they appoint. The relationship has been productive, cordial and effective. The whole City benefits when their elected officials and the Library Board work together to fund and provide quality library services.
President of the Library Board of Trustees